BJP’s Nagaland Unit Backs Out of Declaration to Boycott Polls
Making a U-turn, BJP's Nagaland unit on Tuesday, 30 January, backed out of a joint declaration signed on Monday by all parties in the state to boycott the upcoming Assembly polls which also led to suspension of a state party leader.
As the move by the BJP's state unit to be part of the declaration left its central leadership red-faced, Union minister Kiren Rijiju went into damage control mode, saying elections are a constitutional process and the Central government is bound by the Constitution. Rijiju, who is the minister of state for home, is also BJP's election in-charge for Nagaland.
The BJP also suspended its state executive council member Kheto Semaparty, who had signed the joint declaration.
Representatives of 11 political parties, including the ruling Naga People's Front, its ally BJP and the Congress yesterday signed the declaration not to contest the 27 February assembly elections, agreeing to the demand of tribal bodies and civil society groups that the protracted Naga political problem be resolved first.
The Nationalist Democratic Peoples' Party, Nagaland Congress, United Nagaland Democratic Party, Aam Admi Party, National Congress Party, Lok Janshakti Party, Janata Dal (United) and National People's Party were the other parties who signed the joint declaration.
State BJP chief Visasolie Lhoungu told PTI in Kohima that he had asked Kheto to attend yesterday's meeting but had not authorised him to sign the joint declaration.
"Since Kheto had signed the documents without any consultation with the central leaders, he has been put under suspension," Lhoungu added.
He, however, said the BJP favours an early settlement to the Naga political problem but the Assembly election is a different issue and the state unit of the party is awaiting directions from the central leadership in this regard.
Asked if the BJP accepts the common call for 'solution not election', Lhoungu said:
The discussions will take place soon and the filing of nominations will depend on the outcome of the meeting, he said.
Rijiju, who put out a series of tweets, said the Centre attaches utmost importance to the long pending Naga issue.
"Holding of timely election is a constitutional process. The central government is bound by the Constitution," he said.
Rijiju said the Centre fully understands the sentiments expressed by the Core Committee of the Nagaland Tribal Hohos and Civil Organisations (CCNTHCO) but "election boycott is not the solution".
The Core Committee has also called for a total shutdown on 1 February, when filing of nomination begins.